SAN DIEGO - Loss of off-highway vehicle access to popular federal recreation sites in Southern California was the main theme at a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Duncan Hunter at Cuyamaca College on the outskirts of San Diego. Mike Pool, the director for the California Office of the Bureau of Land Management, also shared the podium at the March 22 meeting.
Over 200 off-roaders attended the event and many expressed concerns about the various competing interests that are impacting recreational opportunities in the California Desert region. The proposed expansion of the Marine Corps base into the Johnson Valley OHV Area, renewable energy construction projects, the endless parade of eco-lawsuits filed by anti-access groups against federal land agencies, and new Wilderness plans were the main points of contention.
Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition, states, "I think this meeting was a true 'grassroots' success. It was not just representatives from organized groups that spoke, but many individuals took time out of the holiday weekend to make their voices heard."
"Both Congressman Hunter and Director Pool assured the crowd that the military was now acutely aware that Johnson Valley is an internationally recognized and world-class OHV recreation area. Hunter also made a promise to the group that he would meet with
the Marine Corps in the next two weeks to discuss this issue and see if a solution can be found," Amador said.
"The event hosts urged OHVers to stay engaged in the political and land-use planning processes. The group was also reminded about shrinking federal recreation budgets and that supporting trail volunteer efforts and user-fee programs at selected sites will be key factors in the public land-use equation," Amador concludes.
The BlueRibbon Coalition is a national recreation group that champions responsible use of public and private lands, and encourages individual environmental stewardship. It represents over 10,000 individual members and 1,200 organization and business members, for a combined total of over 600,000 recreationists nationwide. 1-800-258-3742. http://www.sharetrails.org